Uruguay forward Luis Suarez shocked the world by biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match. But was his behaviour really all that shocking?
If you hadn’t watched the World Cup and had heard that Suarez bit an opposing player, odds are pretty good that you wouldn’t have been terribly surprised. Suarez’s chomp is just the latest addition to a growing rap sheet, one that has resulted in his being suspended from competitive play until the end of October.
Most people came to know Suarez in the 2010 World Cup, during which Uruguay made it to the quarterfinals. Suarez made the most controversial of all plays when he used his hands to knock a Ghana shot off the goal line in the dying minutes of injury time. The debate over whether his move was genius or unfathomably dirty still lives on, but nobody can argue with the results. Ghana missed the resulting penalty, then crumbled in the shootout; Uruguay, with Suarez serving a red card suspension, missed the semi-final loss to the Netherlands.
Suarez introduced himself on the national stage in polarizing fashion, but there was no way to defend the string of incidents that followed. Before 2010 concluded, Suarez again found himself in the headlines, this time for biting an opponent in an Eredivisie game as a member of Ajax. While there was much outrage at his actions, few thought twice about his actions; Suarez was rewarded with a big-money move to Liverpool in the January 2011 transfer window.
The next time Suarez made headlines was when he was accused of using racist terms against Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. There is some dispute over whether or not he was actually guilty of the crime; defenders of Suarez state that he used language that was customary in his home country of Uruguay and was simply misinterpreted by English football fans. In any event, Suarez was banned for eight matches and became firmly entrenched as a villain in the eyes of many.
Suarez cleaned up his act somewhat after this incident, but he find himself in hot water once more before the 2014 World Cup. The FA banned Suarez for ten games after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013. Suarez did not appeal his suspension, which shows that he did have remorse for his actions.
Sadly, his true colors emerged once more at the 2014 World Cup, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who was truly shocked at his bite on Chiellini. In fact, 167 people took a prop bet with gambling site Betsson that Suarez would bite someone at the World Cup. Those 167 people are much richer as a result of reading the writing on the wall.
Maybe you didn’t expect Suarez to act irrationally at the World Cup, but nobody can be even remotely surprised.